Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if U.S. takes steps too


North Korea said it would close a key missile test facility in the presence of "international experts" and potentially destroy its primary nuclear complex if the United States agrees to corresponding measures, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced in a joint press conference with Kim Jong Un Wednesday.

Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday signed a document after their second face-to-face dialogue in Pyongyang.

As Moon arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency cited a commentary that accused Washington of making "gangster-like" demands and failing to build confidence with measures like a peace declaration. "Nothing has changed in this joint statement".

The September Pyongyang declaration covered a number of topics.

Even a staunchly patriotic North Korean could be forgiven for not knowing what to make of it all.

Kim has previously committed to working toward denuclearization, in joint statements with both Moon and Trump.

Referring to the repatriation of remains of USA service people killed in the Korean War, which Kim and Moon also discussed, Trump said: "Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States".

"The Trump Administration will now be faced with a dilemma of enforcing principles and risking strained relations with Seoul or getting on the euphoric peace train", wrote Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow Bruce Klinger in an email to VOA.

The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North's nuclear programme between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore. The Pyongyang Declaration was not it.

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North Korea was also willing to close its main nuclear complex if the United States took unspecified "reciprocal action", they added.

The inter-Korean military agreement will also see the establishment of a peace zone near the disputed maritime border on the western coast.

To prevent any accidental armed clash, the leaders agreed to form a joint military committee to coordinate and communicate with each other. "I expect that these steps would greatly help allay the worldwide community's mistrust that such dismantlement was only for show [without the inspection]", Chung Eui-yong, Moon's national security adviser, told reporters in Pyongyang.

Mr Moon's meeting with President Trump may pave the way for a second Trump-Kim summit meeting, allowing the United States and North Korea to work through the current logjam in the denuclearisation process.

On Tuesday, Kim gave the South Korean president an exceedingly warm welcome, the first day of the summit, meeting him and his wife at Pyongyang's airport, itself a very unusual gesture, then riding into town with Moon in an open limousine through streets lined with crowds of North Koreans, who cheered and waved the flag of their country and a blue-and-white flag that symbolises Korean unity. Part of those efforts includes Seoul hosting the Pyongyang Art Company next month and both nations participating in worldwide sporting competitions in 2020.

The leaders made other non-military announcements, including plans to submit a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

Hanham said North Korea made similar offers during previous rounds of negotiations, but the steps it ultimately took - demolishing a cooling tower at Yongbyon in 2008 for example - were easily reversed. It emphasized that Moon Jae-in said the two leaders have agreed to steps that will lead to a "nuclear-free peninsula". Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters it was a restaurant frequented by locals, who would join the South Korean delegation. The two countries competed together during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite some protests from conservative South Korean lawmakers and athletes. It's expected the 150,000 person capacity stadium will be filled for a one-hour performance entitled "Brilliant Fatherland".

"Thanks to that meeting, the situation around the Korean Peninsula has stabilized, and we can now expect more progress", Kim said at the start of a two-hour meeting with Moon at the headquarters of the ruling Workers' Party, according to pool reports from South Korean journalists in Pyongyang.